Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, the lead Republican working on a bipartisan Iran sanctions bill, told reporters Tuesday that he's optimistic the measure will come out soon and that members involved can push it forward.
"It's coming," he said Tuesday, after voting on an unrelated budget measure. "I was just talking to Senator Schumer about progress. Hoping to do that and to work it out with Bob Menendez."
Kirk said that the timing of a bill rollout and any consideration in the Senate will be up to his top Democratic partner on sanctions, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez of New Jersey, and of course Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
"The timing will be up to Harry and Bob," he said. "It's coming up."
Kirk said his goal is to keep his expected Democratic cosponsors like Menendez and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York content and united. "But obviously for me it's to work closely with majority partners who control timing and when things can be offered," he said. "We are in pretty good shape."
Kirk sought to debunk perceptions that intense Obama administration lobbying has had a chilling effect on interested members, particularly Democrats.
"The administration lobbying has been disappointing to me," he said. "I always read much more classified stuff in The New York Times than anything they give in the briefings."
Kirk said he was pushing to roll out a sanctions bill this week, before lawmakers adjourn for the year.
"I'm hoping," he said. "I'm going to be very welded to my partner Bob Menendez to make sure that he's happy and that the Menendez-Kirk brand is one in which two guys are back-to-back against the Iranians."
This article appears in the December 18, 2013 edition of NJ Daily.